UT-Austin officials declined to comment on the partnerships between dating apps and member chapters of its Interfraternity Council, and the Council did not respond to requests for comment.
“If it was sanctioned by the university, I’d like to know, but there’s a lot of sponsorship going on of events that as a parent, I’ll never know about,” Lopez Stuessy said.
Tinder was launched in 2012 within startup incubator Hatch Labs, and both attended the University of Southern California and became online entrepreneurs at the same time.
Rad has said the impetus for Tinder's creation was his observation that "no matter who you are, you feel more comfortable approaching somebody if you know they want you to approach them." He believed a "double opt-in" system could be created to potentially alleviate the stress of meeting new people.
While the sponsorships appear to be on the “down low,” they are a brilliant marketing strategy for dating apps, said Angeline Close Scheinbaum, an associate professor of advertising and public relations at UT.
In addition to recruiting new users, the parties generate company buzz when attendees don brightly colored merch and share snaps from the event, where the apps’ logos are plastered on signs and flags in the background.
Beyond appealing to their target audience, the sponsorships are successful because they are not school-sanctioned and do not occur on campus, Close Scheinbaum said.
Rad has also said Tinder filled a gap in the availability of social platforms for meeting strangers, rather than connecting with people a user already knows.